Found: precise analysis of cursive defenders’ favorite logical errors

Found: precise analysis of cursive defenders’ favorite logical errors

(I disagree, though, with this blogger’s claim that long handwritten messages are always an imposition on the reader. With well-planned practice— and a simple style of handwriting — the results can be as legible as any type font.)

What are some false-to-fact statements that you, yourself, have read or heard about handwriting? Share them, please, and any rejoinders you have worked out.

Also — what other handwriting-related matters would you like to see me raise? Would you like me to post samples of interesting handwriting, to analyze for legibility and other features? … or what?

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2 Responses to Found: precise analysis of cursive defenders’ favorite logical errors

  1. Aya Katz says:

    Kate, one thing I hear often from teachers is that practicing cursive and learning to master it somehow improves overall cognitive ability. I do think that it might help improve fine motor skills, but to equate motor skills with cognitive ability is to take a major leap.

    What does tend to be true is that people with no coordination problems will do better at this type of exercise than those of us whose hand eye coordination is not as good. So if you are looking for a way to gauge someone’s fine motor skills, then giving a handwriting test might be one way to do so. That, however, has nothing to do with intelligence.

  2. In my experience and observation (and according to the limited research that there has been on this), the claimed cursive/cognitive correlation is spurious.

    What’s actually going on is a combination of factors —

    /1/ teachers unconsciously raise or lower a student’s grade (or that portion of the grade which is based on essay-exams, class participation, and other wholly/partly subjective measures) based on the appearance of the student’s handwriting — even when the teacher tries to be fair, and even when the teacher believes that she is being fair. (The result: work that would get a “B” grade if judged objectively is often given an “B+” or “A” grade if the teacher likes the handwriting, or a “B-” or “C” grade if the teacher doesn’t like the handwriting … or if it is keyboarded, for that matter!)

    /2/ Similarly, there are teachers who believe (and who make others believe) that a student with bad handwriting who gives intelligent answers either must be cheating somehow, or else somehow doesn’t really understand what he is saying … while a student with good handwriting who gives unintelligent answers is given encouragement, not accusations. (As someone who had very bad handwriting until I improved it during graduate school, I experienced both sides of this phenomenon.)

    /3/ There is some cognitive benefit from handwriting, but it applies to handwriting in any style (not just cursive) that the person has learned/is learned to perform rapidly and fluently. Rapid, fluently performed performance of a print-like style — if and when it is achieved; most people are never shown how “print-writing” can be made fluent — has the same benefits as rapid, fluent writing inany style of cursive … and it is in fact easier, once the skill is demonstrated, to gain rapid, legible fluency in at least one style that is generally perceived as being “printing” or “print-like” rather than cursive/ (The style in question is called Italic — ask for info, if you wish — and it is the experience of people who have taught both Italic handwriting and conventional cursive that the cognitively benefits of Italic are equal and are possibly superior. For instance. teachers experienced in both Italic and conventional cursive find that the children in their Italic classes — particularly the boys — do not lose interest in handwriting, English, literature, and other schoolwork when third grade comes along and various academic demands are increased.)
    Analogy to the “cursive is magic” claims (as I call the various and widely assorted claims I have heard made for the superiority of cursive): suppose it was claimed that turnips grown by one particular method had health benefits not found in any other food … specifically, let’s say it was claimed that the turnips grown by one particular farmer were the world’s only source of Vitamin C — and we can even suppose that the nutritionists making this claim were basing it on their experience of decades of testing the effects of only two foodstuffs: these special turnips vs/Coca-Cola. Finding that this one particular farmer’s turnips contain some Vitamin C, and that this vitamin is absent from a diet consisting purely of Coca-Cola, would not prove the claims that only this one food contained the vitamin: it would only prove that the testing hadn’t been very comprehensive.
    People working at various cursive handwriting publishing firms have told me — on condition that I must not identify them or their firms by name — that their firms have tested their published cursive writing styles against Italic styles and have found the Italic styles equal or superior in terms of cognitive and other results … the research, therefore, was kept buried in the files and is not shown to people outside the company that funded the research and then buried the research because its results weren’t what the funders had looked for. (Feel free to dismiss such accounts if you like, because I was not given the research., as I do not work for any of those companies and — frankly — would not wish to. I therefore report this matter only for its possible interest.

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